Washington Could Legalize 'Missing Middle' Housing Statewide

A proposed bill in the Washington state legislature that would legalize more multi-family housing in the state could add hundreds of thousands of units to the state's strained housing stock.

2 minute read

January 11, 2022, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Puget Sound

SEASTOCK / Shutterstock

A proposed bill in the Washington state legislature would open the door to more "missing middle housing" in the state, reports Dan Bertolet. "A new bill would not only help correct the historic injustice of zoning laws originally enacted to exclude Black families, but also would relieve the root cause of Washington’s housing crisis: a shortage of homes."

The law would lift local laws that ban multi-family buildings, legalizing denser housing based on its location, local population, and proximity to transit. Based on a California study, this could lead to the construction of more than 200,000 units in Washington. "For a second comparison, a recent University of Washington report estimated that legalizing fourplexes within a quarter-mile of transit stations would create capacity for nearly half a million more homes in the Puget Sound region, which is home to 4.3 million of the state’s 7.6 million residents."

The proposed bill would also limit parking requirements to reduce the cost of construction and encourage multi-modal transportation and transit use. Further, the bill attempts to prevent displacement by requiring citied to adhere to the anti-displacement standards enacted by the state in 2021.

According to the source article, linked below, Washington's proposed legislation differs in key ways from similar laws in California and Oregon, notably by permitting six-unit buildings near transit. While it excludes unincorporated areas and gives cities a minimum density alternative that could let some localities perpetuate exclusionary zoning, the bill has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new homes for Washingtonians.

Thursday, January 6, 2022 in Sightline

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

7 hours ago - The Architect's Newspaper

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

7 hours ago - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of back windshield of Waymo autonomous car.

NHTSA Launches Investigations Into Two More Self-Driving Automakers

The federal agency is responding to reports of crashes and erratic behavior from Waymo and Zoox vehicles.

May 21 - Smart Cities Dive

Texas Townhomes

Austin Reduces Minimum Lot Size

Smaller lot sizes for single-family homes can make construction more affordable and homeownership available to more households.

May 21 - The Texas Tribune

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.